SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE: MAYBE MY MOM DID IT
Six Organs of Admittance is guitarist Ben Chasny and he is renowned on Wikipedia. He speaks now after driving through places untouched by telephone radiation.
Who is Gary Higgins?
He’s this guy that had a record out in the early ‘70s—a private press—and I really loved it. This friend and I tracked him down and reissued it on Drag City. It’s this brilliant lonely, loner folk record—super beautiful.
Does he know you’re responsible for the reissue?
I actually covered one of his songs for Drag City, so yeah. It was really rad. I opened up for him in New York. That was amazing.
What’s so special about the weed in Humboldt county?
You know what? I don’t know. I’m not a connoisseur, but it’s hard to get away from. What makes it so special? I wouldn’t know what makes it so special but it certainly seems to be the only thing we’re known for.
Have you ever done acid in the woods?
No, absolutely not. I grew up there so everything that has to do with being a hippie was a big no-no and I rebelled against it—all that taking acid and people into dressing up like hippies and running around on acid. No. Just… no. People have this preconceived notion and it really has nothing to do with taking acid. All this hippie stuff—it’s all safe and about being happy and that’s why I hate the Grateful Dead and why I was more into music that was crazy and would make me freak out.
So you don’t like Jerry Garcia?
What about Cherry Garcia?
Yeah. I had a hard time eating it at first but then I got past my prejudices with Jerry and now it’s cool. I like that ice cream.
Are you an eco-warrior?
No. I think I’m much more of a nihilist when it comes to that. I think it’s just going to happen and happen fast and I just don’t think there’s much hope. At all. I think the worlds going to end pretty soon. I think it’s positive if someone wants to have a festival to raise awareness, but I mean, all these bands are going to drive in their dirty vans out there to play and pollute and its like, ‘What?’ It all gets a little cloudy. I would like to say though that I personally support Al Gore and all that—I just don’t think he’s going to make a change. It’s too late. Sorry.
What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you on the road?
What do you mean? I don’t drive to gigs.
You have a private jet?
Craziest thing on the road? I haven’t seen that much crazy stuff. The road’s pretty monotonous. The road’s all the same.
Gang Gang Dance saw Robin Williams.
I’ve never seen anything that exciting. Yeah, right. Do they have pictures? That doesn’t happen. I think they’ve been sampling the Humboldt weed.
So you’ve never watched the Wizard Of Oz while listening to Dark Side of the Moon?
No, not really—not anything like that. You just had to slash a bunch of your questions because you thought I was a hippie, huh?
Okay, what are you?
What are you? What kind of question is that? I’m asking so I know the parameters of how the question was proposed.
If you could be any animal in the world, what would you be?
I was asked that same question by a biology teacher on my first day of class in junior college. They ask that to figure out personalities. Weird. Why does everybody ask that?
What was your animal?
What the fuck?
It’s a spider that makes a little web over itself and hides in a little shell until an animal comes by and it jumps out and attacks it. What? You asked. You can YouTube ‘trapdoor spider’ and a bunch of things pop up.
Did she explain your personality to you?
No, it was a biology class, not a psychology class. The trapdoor spider is always being attacked.
In all the pictures I could find of you on the Internet, you look sort of gloomy and there’s hair in your face.
I didn’t know. I’m going to talk to my stylist about that.
What’s your favorite show that you’ve ever played?
The last time Six Organs played in Austria was probably one of my favorites. I can’t think of any others, really. They kind of just happen and they’re over. I remember horrible shows much more than I remember good shows. One of them was in Portland when I was playing with Richard Bishop and that was just a nightmare. Everything broke and I think I just spent a minute with my head in my hands in silence. It happens a lot actually.
When your head was in your hands in silence, were you on stage?
Yeah, I was onstage and everything broke and then everyone was just staring at me and I was just really bummed because Rick Bishop had just played an awesome show. It was just gunslinger style—he had just kicked my ass and it all just went downhill from there. He’s the guitarist in that band Sun City Girls. He’s a really good musician.
If you were a trapdoor spider, I bet you would have felt protected.
Yes, I would have. He wouldn’t have known I was playing. I would have just snuck up on him.
Have you ever gotten drunk and danced around a 7-11?
Um, no. I don’t usually dance when I’m drunk. I don’t use getting drunk as an excuse to express my wild side.
What do you do to cut loose?
Are you trying to accuse me of not being able to have a good time? I guess I haven’t been able to ‘cut loose’ in a long time. Cutting loose has connotations of dancing in it still, and that doesn’t happen.
Did you know that you’re on Wikipedia?
Yeah. I think it’s cool. I like it because it lends itself to mischievous behavior and people can do some bad things on it. I think people can be creatively mischievous on it—though people can also be assholes.
Don’t you think it’s interesting that I asked you about how you feel about you being on Wikipedia and you answered back with an opinion about Wikipedia? You don’t cut loose but you enjoy that others do.
Excuse me—I have many online aliases and I can cut loose and go nuts on it. You have no idea, I assure you.
So you have a secret Myspace profile?
No, I don’t have a Myspace profile. If I want to snoop around, I use my friend’s profile.
How do you feel about being on Wikipedia?
It doesn’t bother me. It allows people to do background checks and whatnot.
Do you know who put it up?
No I don’t. It’s really weird.
Maybe you have some secret groupies.
Or it could have been the record label. Or maybe my mom did it.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever received in the mail?
I never have my address on anything so I don’t receive any mail. I received a really nice letter from Japan once.
Do you make a living being a musician?
Yeah, I exist on records and music. And I’m in a bunch of different bands right now so it helps me survive. I’m in Badgerlore—I’ve been in that band longer than any other band. Longer than Six Organs. And then Six Organs and Current 93.
And Comets on Fire?
Yeah, kind of—yes, I play with Comets on Fire.
Is this the most unprofessional interview you’ve ever done?
I don’t think so. No, no. It’s been alright.
I think I’m in love with you.
SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE PLAYS WED., JUNE 27, WITH JOSEPH MATTON, RUTHANN FRIEDMAN AND ENTRANCE PLUS READINGS BY ELISA AMBROLIO OF THE MAGIK MARKERS, LEWIS MACADAMS AND PALOMA PARFREY (WITH SOUNDS BY TAMALA POLJAK) AND MC OLIVER HALL AT THE ARTHUR MAGAZINE BENEFIT PARTY AT THE SILENT MOVIE THEATER, 611 N. FAIRFAX AVE., LOS ANGELES. 8 PM SHARP / $15 / ALL AGES. WWW.ARTHURMAG.COM.
interview by ND